Terri and I met via email and my blog. She reached out for an interview and after checking out her website and books, I gladly agreed.
Terri's been writing for years, and she's an expert in multiple genres. You will learn a lot from her, and her books.
Below are the questions I asked her:
1. You write for multiple age groups. How hard is it to switch from one age group to the next?
My books are like my children, and after all, a mom can interact with all her children, even though they may be different ages, right?
2. Describe your writing in 5 words:
heartfelt, creative, frustrating, hopefully enticing
3. What time do you get up and what do you eat for breakfast?
I am not a morning person, so even though I know I shouldn’t, I skip breakfast!
4. Which one of your books gave you the most headaches, and why?
I’ve had issues with many of my books. The endings to two of my YA novels, My Father’s Son and Holdup presented problems. There’s a twist in both endings, so I won’t talk about them here, but I struggled with both until I finally found what worked.
In Danger in the Desert, which is a middle-grades survival novel, I had two boys stranded in the desert, but if they knew enough about desert survival to have a chance to stay alive, they were also smart enough not to wander out in the desert and get lost. The unfinished book stayed in my drawer for over a year while I searched for a beginning which would get them in the desert and stay true to their characters.
All of my picture books start out as way too long. I have to cut, cut, cut, or there would be no place for the illustrator to create her wonderful pictures.
5. Why write?
I believe that stories are at the heart of what helps make us human. It’s a joy to read others’stories and to have others share in the stories I tell.
6. What's the funniest question you've been asked when at a school visit?
Why does your real face have more wrinkles than your picture?
7. Who are your biggest cheerleaders?
My mom, my hubby, and my children.
8. Describe the feeling you get when you are notified that you have won an award for your work.
Learning that I have won an award is very exciting, especially when it is either one selected by children or one that will get the book into more kids’ hands. I’ve been really fortunate to have had most of my books win awards.
9. What advice would you give an author holding their first rejection letter?
DON’T GIVE UP! A Wrinkle in Time was turned down 29 times! The Diary of Anne Frank was rejected with a comment that the main character didn’t really have a lot of feeling. Think what we would have lost if the authors of those two, now absolute classic pieces of literature, had just given up at the first rejection?
Make your book the very best it can be. Set it aside, revisit it, and see if it needs revision, but then once you’re sure of it, send it out, don’t give up just because an editor or two or three reject it.
10. What websites for writers do you use?
One of my favorite is www.Verlakay.com The message board there is such a supportive community of writers.
11. What do you think about the changing world of publishing? E-books a good thing for literature?
I think we are on the precipice of a huge change in the way we receive communication. Right now, I think e-books have had a much bigger impact on adult reading. However, I’m very excited that some of my books including my newest picture book The Most Dangerous have been published as hardcovers, paperbacks, and e-books.
I think the e-book for kids will really explode when most children have tablets. Some schools have already gone to tablets for their texts, but not too many. However, as prices drop, and every school child has a tablet or electronic reader and uses it to read text at school, I think kids will expect to get their leisure reading the same way.
12. Who are you reading right now?
I read about five books a week, and they are all quite different. Tonight, I am reading The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer. I’m really enjoying her writing style.
13. How easy or hard is the query letter for you?
I’ve written a lot of them, but I always write and re-write them before I send them off.
Any advice to those trying to write one?
Don’t make your query letter too long; remember that the query letter has two main tasks. First, it should show that you can write well, and second, it should intrigue the reader to want to know more about your plot and characters.
One of the best writing exercises the beloved editor Deborah Brody gave me was to be able to write a one sentence grabber for each of my books that would hook readers and make them have to pick up the book and read it. Sometimes, I struggled more with that sentence than a 200-page manuscript.
14. Are there any MUST haves on your writing desk?
I need my computer. I cannot believe that I ever functioned with just a typewriter.
15. If you could give out a writing/illustrating award, whom would it go to and why?
I would give an award to BG Hennessy for her picture book Because of You. I give the book to every new parent. It’s a wonderful baby gift and a beautiful sentiment that every child should grow up feeling.
16. Do you have a favorite word or words?
I have a favorite quote: “Think you can, or think you can’t. Either way, you’re right!”
17. How can my blog readers help you to become an even bigger success?
Please read my books. If you like them, tell other people about them. (If you don’t, well…it’s okay if you don’t tell anyone!)
Whether they are mine or other books you like, please go on Amazon and other sites like Goodreads and blogs and comment about them. If you are associated with a school, find out about your state’s book awards. Suggest to your child’s teacher or librarian that my or other current books you like be nominated. Follow through to see if the school is participating in the reading and voting. It’s good for kids, and it helps books stay “alive.”
I have been told that there are about 25,000 children’s/YA books published each year. Most of them get little to no publicity, and many will be out of print within two years. Proactive blog readers who promote a book can make the difference in a book’s success.
One person really does matter!
18. Which of your books is your favorite?
My books really are like my kids, and I don’t have a favorite. However, the book that has had the most impact is After the Death of Anna Gonzales. It’s about a girl who kills herself because she thinks she’s irrelevant. The book is a collection of poems of the reactions of 47 people at the high school as they learn of Anna’s death. The last two pages are Anna’s suicide note. Not to be melodramatic, but that book has saved kids’ lives.
19. What one word best describes you?
20. Any big news?
I’m part of Angie Azur’s blog, and I’m proud she is hosting me on my blog tour for my new book from Sylvan Dell entitled The Most Dangerous Hardcover ISBN: 9781607185260 , Paperback ISBN: 9781607185352
Terri Fields has written nineteen books which have garnered a number of awards including the Maud Hart Lovelace Award for Middle Grades Fiction, the Georgia Children’s Choice Award, being named to the Recommended Reading List for Chicago Public School, the TAYSHAS (Texas) Reading List, the Southwest Books of the Year List, and as one of the 100 Top Kid Picks in Children’s Books in Arizona. Ms Fields has enjoyed sharing her books with children all over the world through author visits. In addition to writing, Ms. Fields is also a educator who has been named Arizona Teacher of the Year, ING Education Innovator for Arizona, and been selected as one of the twenty teachers on the All-USA Teacher Team of the nation’s top educators. Terri Fields has worked with students in first through twelfth grade. Ms. Fields sees the world around her in terms of the wonderful stories it reveals.
Author website: www.terrifields.com, The Most Dangerous Hardcover ISBN: 9781607185260 , $17.95
Paperback ISBN: 9781607185352 , $9.95, http://sylvandellpublishing.com/bookpage.php?id=MostDangerous